A Note from EBA: Today we launch EBA’s BeAdvised Blog, a place for those in the industry and EBA staff to share their views and thoughts. Have an opinion or topic you want to blog about? Contact EBA Associate Editor Brian Kalish about guest blogging opportunities at brian.kalish@sourcemedia.com.

And don’t forget to check back Monday to Thursday for new posts and join in the discussion by commenting with your thoughts. Today's first post asks what type of broker or consultant you are.


Are you a Professional Producer or a Productive Professional? Maybe you’ve never thought about it — but your approach to the role as a broker or consultant can greatly impact your level of satisfaction (and sustainability) on your career path.  There’s more to this than manual dexterity on a Blackberry. The Professional Producer does have a nice ring to it — on the surface. But this role makes production the profession. It grinds out the call ratios, closing percentage and trudges through the slog for goals sake.  What a treadmill.  The Productive Professional can be plugged in at any task level or job description. I’ll give three examples.

We begin our survey with a lady named Edna. She works at a moderately upscale restaurant owned by a local Greek family. The timeline is my childhood (circa late 60’s / early 70’s). Edna is a waitress (this was before we called them servers) and there was no need for her to say, “I’ll be taking care of you this evening” as this was axiomatic and validated by our family’s inexorable trek to her section of the restaurant.

Edna, you see, was a Productive Professional — she was essentially her own franchise. She had taken a job and made it a profession. Perhaps the best demonstration of this was the way she would warmly speak to my dad and say, “Bob” do you want this or “Bob” do you need that.  This might seem rather unremarkable, but you see my dad’s name wasn’t Bob. It was Carl. We were such Edna groupies that we couldn’t bring ourselves to correct her so my dad remained “Bob” whenever we encountered this Productive Professional out of deference to her craft.  

My second example is actually Bob, err I mean Carl (my dad). He too elevated what might be viewed as just a job to an art form — Dad sold cars.  Fifty years in the industry with the same dealership, Dad saw three generations of this family owned automotive group and served them faithfully. But again, Dad was essentially his own franchise – he was a Productive Professional. Perhaps you are tempted to say, but wait; my circumstances don’t really lend themselves to such an approach. Oh really? Well, let’s dial back one more time.

Thirdly, when I was in what is now called middle school – the Spanish Club tried to raise money by selling a product door-to-door.  Not so unusual, then or now, but this wasn’t candy or cookies. We sold toilet bowl cleaner, Dura Sani to be specific.  But when I knocked on that door, I needed to deliver my lines with gusto (or at least a sheepish grin). I needed to be a Productive Professional?  

What is the common thread? What is the theme? Elevate. Operate your “franchise” on a different plain, the Productive Professional.  What does this look like? Well, this is the stuff of books, isn’t it? Instead let’s identify a few simple and common ingredients that are easy to apply if not so easy to immediately achieve.

  • Develop Product Knowledge: Edna knew when the cutlets looked good. Dad knew when the new sedan would resonate with a particular customer.
  • Develop Patience: Know when to tread lightly or perhaps back off. Sometimes, even when your prospects consents to the appointment, offering a time that is a week or two out creates the “full dance card” impression of a well utilized Productive Professional. 
  • Develop Presentation: Of course you want a solid product presentation, but what about your own personal presentation. Edna always had a well coiffed (and sprayed) “do” along with a tidy uniform. Dad wore suits, even after the industry moved to sport clothes for car sales.  Look the part!

The Productive Professional hits and exceeds goals in the wake of his behavior, not because of some formulaic process performed by a dressed up robot. A distinction without a difference? You decide. I think I know what Edna would say (and so would Bob).
Loncono, RHU, REBC, RPA, CEBS, is an employee benefits broker at Bay Benefits Group in Mobile, Ala. He can be reached at 251-643-7575 x102 or mikeloncono@baybenefitsgroup.com.


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